The Original Hipster Headquarters
If you are buying a house in Chicago and considering Wicker Park, use this neighborhood real estate guide for an insider's take before you purchase a home. Wicker Park is a hot area with condos for sale in all price ranges, as well as single family homes for sale.
A 24-7 type of neighborhood, the streets of Wicker Park are buzzing at all hours. At rush hour, packs of commuters trek across the 6-corner intersection headed to the train, while the smell of donuts tempts passersby. Bikes are a constant flurry down Milwaukee Avenue. Indie coffee shops move their lines along quickly. Afternoons you'll find families strolling, workout junkies on the move, shoppers drifting in and out, and coffee shops packed with locals running off wifi and caffeine. By nightfall, it's all about getting a table at the hottest new restaurant or sitting back and having a few drinks with friends at a local watering hole.
The central axis is the intersection of North Avenue, Milwaukee Avenue and Damen Avenue. The other main stretch runs along Division Street, from Ashland Avenue to Western Avenue.
A commuter's dream, the Blue Line 'L' Train makes for prime accessibility with Wicker Park. Quickly travel downtown or get to O'Hare International Airport with ease on the 24 hour train line. Not one but two neighborhood train stops closeby ensures convenience — Division (a subway train station) and Damen (an elevated train station) — not to mention several bus lines #50 Damen, #49 Western, #9 Ashland, #56 Milwaukee, #70 Division and #72 North.
Art centric and edgy, the area around North, Milwaukee and Damen got its claim to cool via art galleries, independent shops, dimlit bars, loud music clubs and the requisite coffee houses. Some of those originals still remain (Myopic Books, Reckless Records and Subterranean among them) and along with their neighboring storefronts — smoke shops, discount furniture outlets, recycled clothing shops and a healthy dose of street art — give the neighborhood it's gritty charm today. Though sharing these blocks too now are some major retailers with a broader appeal, from Urban Outfitters to Levi's to American Apparel to Lululemon.
In contrast to Milwaukee Avenue (that main artery is essentially one solid wall of storefront businesses in a mile span), Division Street and its top local spots have a little more room to spread out. Spacious tree-lined sidewalks draw large crowds for alfresco patio dining, while racks of clothes swell during the sidewalk shopping sales. Big on boutiques, some locally-owned favorites include Psycho Baby, Paper Doll and Penelope's. While two uniquely Chicago spas have rest and relaxation covered: the healing sanctuary Ruby Room and modern Russian-style bathhouse Red Square.
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The Essentials: Eat & Drink
Go for budget bites such as the homemade Argentinian handhelds from Empanadas 5411 or a falafel-stuffed pita sandwich from Sultan's Market. For chef-driven casual fare, start with Big Star, BellyQ and XOCO. Brunch? Ramen? Barbeque? Get your fix in this hood where a diversity of flavors means you can get Greek, Japanese, Indian, Polish and Italian too. Other top picks:
- Chop Shop: A triple threat, this restaurant/bar concept combines with a butcher shop, and also houses an event space
- Trencherman: A former Turkish bath turned Michelin star restaurant
- Alliance Bakery: A Polish bakery at one point, find French pastries, European treats and custom cakes on the menu
- Dove's Luncheonette: Modern take on an old fashioned American diner, with award winning Mexican-inspired cuisine and plenty of tequila to go around
- Piece: Piles on the awards as one of Chicago's top breweries, with tasty New Haven-style pizza to boot
- Handlebar: Hits all the major hipster checklists... vegan conscious, bicycle friendly, craft beer focused
- The Smoke Daddy BBQ: Where live blues music and the best bbq ribs in the city meet
- The Violet Hour: Pretty much the tour de force behind the mixology movement in Chicago and a James Beard Award winner for “Best Bar Program” in 2015
- The Bedford: Sip cocktails in a stunning space, a retrofitted bank vault like something straight out of a James Bond movie
Anchoring the Area
With three levels and over 50 working studios and artist galleries, the Flat Iron Arts Building is a communal creative space.
Across the corner, what was known as the Northwest Tower Building is now a boutique hotel The Robey. This revival shines the spotlight on the handsome 12-story building (one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Chicago), and pays homage to history as Damen Avenue was formerly Robey Street. The Hollander, the name of the next door restaurant and bar, is also a nod to area history.
Wicker Park, the neighborhood's namesake park, is a popular gathering place for all despite it being a somewhat small triangular pocket: dog owners like the enclosed off-leash area, basketball fans will find a court for pick up games, sunbathers relax on the grass, kids climb on the playground, and in the summers, locals all come through for the Wicker Park Farmers Market.
One of the area's designated historic districts, Beer Baron Row is tucked away on quiet residential streets (Pierce and Hoyne Avenues) and features some of the city's largest and best examples of Victorian-era architecture.
Locals Who Live Here
So is Wicker Park a hipster haven or fun for families? Well... both. This ever-changing enclave skews on the young side with a good mix of artists, musicians and creative types, with monied young professionals making up many of the newer residents. Duplex homes for sale, spacious lofts for sale, and condos for sale are in high demand here. And families seeking single family homes for sale will find historic graystones, brick cottages and modern developments in the mix.
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